DSCF0853bFollowing the end of the TB Europe Network meeting in Kyiv, members of the TB Europe Coalition seized the opportunity of being in Ukraine to meet with local TB civil society organisations (CSOs) and relevant stakeholders in the country. This was the second visit of the TB Europe Coalition to Ukraine, following the first one in November 2010.

On 25 April 2014, a group of TB Europe Coalition members met with the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine. The discussion focused on the work of the European Union (EU) to support the fight against TB in the country and, more in general, the assistance offered by the Delegation to local CSOs.

The representative of the EU Delegation explained that most of the money that the EU invests in TB in Ukraine is channeled through the EU contribution to the Global Fund and general budget support to the Ukrainian government. In spite of this, there may be opportunities for local non-governmental organisations engaged in the fight against TB to access resources, especially in the field of human rights and vulnerable groups, which remain priorities in the EU-Ukraine relations. In this sense, it was underlined that TB CSOs ill increasingly coordinate among each other in order to facilitate a meaningful and regular dialogue with the EU Delegation in Kyiv.

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The importance of civil society coordination was incorporated in the conversation that TB Europe Coalition representatives had in the subsequent meeting with civil society organisations on 28 April 2014. The meeting aimed to discuss current challenges and opportunities in Ukraine and explore how the TB Europe Coalition can assist the advocacy work of civil society.

After a short debrief about the scope and results of the TB Europe Network meeting, which also Ukrainian organisations attended,  TB Europe Coalition’s mission and activities were presented to participants.

The discussion was then opened and focused on challenges for TB in Ukraine. Among the various issues that emerged, insufficient state funding of TB programmes was a major problem. As a consequence, huge differences in TB care and control among regions of Ukraine remains. According to participants, the dispensaries system works poorly and this often challenges access to drugs. In addition, lack of integration of TB and HIV services continue to delay diagnosis and create troubles for patients in accessing the best treatment.

A lot of communalities were found among participants’ view on how to change the current situation. First, eliminate barriers to TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention by applying a client-centred approach to the healthcare system and improving access to social and medical services among vulnerable groups. Second, strengthening outpatient’s treatment and moving TB treatment to primary and ambulatory care, as a way to improve diagnosis and treatment and save financial resources. Finally, participants agreed on the importance of enhancing advocacy work, as a way for CSOs to influence government process on and financing for TB.

DSCF0859TBEC representatives highlighted that they are ready to support Ukrainian CSOs in reinforcing coordination as a way to strengthen their advocacy work and increase their influence vis-à-vis decision-makers in the country. Ukrainian CSOs recognised that developing a common advocacy strategy would be crucial in this regard and will consider facilitation from the TB Europe Coalition during their next meeting. Stressing the importance of collaboration among CSOs was especially timely considering the need to deliver a national concept note to the Global Fund by mid June.

The TB Europe Coalition would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants for their contribution and reiterate their readiness to fully support TB advocacy work in Ukraine.